Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Whole Foods in Venice Beach, CA

I barely set down my red pen after correcting the last of the midterms when I hopped on a flight to California. Thirty short hours later (I am a champion sleeper) I arrived at LAX. I walked through the same arrival gate that 25 years earlier my proud parents had walked through with a six-week old me to present to America for the first time. This time, I had butterflies in my stomach eagerly anticipating my (likely tearful and sentimental) reunion with glorious Dylan. (There’s your shout-out, Dylan.) To my dismay, he was NOT THERE. (Still want a shout-out?) At close to two in the morning, I still sat at LAX awaiting his arrival. Three hours later after I had given up hope, unassumingly reading in my plastic chair, I was pummeled from behind by a scruffy blonde man. Dylan! And I couldn’t have been happier to see him. He had a completely viable excuse for his tardiness: Hot dogs at the all-you-can-eat pavilion at the Dodger game!

I had so many expectations riding on this visit home. For weeks prior I dreamed of reunions with loved ones, the ocean, sushi, Darshan pastries, Pannikin, Mexican food, a southern California Fourth of July, Big Sur, bike rides, yoga at the yurt. The thing with California is that it never disappoints. It is always spectacular. The turquoise water of Carmel, the vineyards of Paso Robles,  the charm of Leucadia, Mexican food is always better than you remember it. The same goes for all the people I missed while away. You are funnier, smarter and more beautiful than I remember! All of you! These feelings are exacerbated by a habit I call ‘sun-setting.’ It means that you experience life by putting an expiration date on everything. I was home for two weeks. I will be in Bhutan for one year. I will only commit to something knowing that there is a time limit. I think it creates appreciation that wouldn’t be so overt if the situation could continue indefinitely. It’s like watching a sunset. You don’t really appreciate the light of the sun until it is almost gone, hanging just above the horizon, casting golden light on everything.

One of the cherries on top of this indulgent return home was Melissa’s wedding. The wedding and all events surrounding it will be memories I will treasure till my dying days. Being home for such a short amount of time magnified all the appreciation and gratitude I have for my family. Melissa looked like she walked off the pages of a bridal magazine. The ceremony was sacred and the party following overlooking the Pacific Ocean will go down in family folklore. We should have a live band at every family gathering playing eighties music and Al Green (funerals included). What do you think Grandma?

So a word to those living in developing countries, if you ever come for a quick trip to the states before returning back, DO NOT GO TO WHOLE FOODS A HALF AN HOUR BEFORE BOARDING YOUR PLANE BACK TO YOUR COUNTRY. I’m not sure I have ever been more overwhelmed in my life. I asked Dylan to take me there ‘real quick’ so I could get a sandwich to eat on the journey. Walking through the sliding doors, I saw before my eyes a festival of earthly delights. More food than could ever be consumed by the entire population of Los Angeles is contained in that market. There is a burrito bar, sushi bar, cheese bar, meat bar, gelato bar, raw food bar, juice bar, smoothie bar, beauty bar, desert bar, wine bar. I had a similar feeling to what I have described in previous posts. But instead of my eyeballs being too small to take it all in, this time I felt my mouth and digestive tract would just not be big enough. My bag was already full of Trader Joe’s food to bring back to Bhutan. Tick, tick, tick. Half an hour till take-off. I was gripped by a sudden fear that if I was not able to haul these perishable treasures with me back to Bhutan, I was going to DIE of starvation. That’s when Dylan decided it was time for us to leave. Good decision. I might have abandoned my new life in Bhutan for good and instead sought permanent residency inside of that Whole Foods. There was room for me just next to the desert case.

So somewhat reluctantly I boarded my flight. It was not so effortless as the journey there because this time I was afflicted with a malicious armpit rash. I have been (knock on wood) healthy as a yak for my entire stay in Bhutan. It’s not until I returned to California that this mysterious, painful and repulsive armpit condition afflicted me. I spent the proceeding thirty hours fervently scratching my armpits like the ape I am, much to the concern of my row-mates. “It’s not contagious.” I nervously chuckled. (It probably is.) Back in my apartment in Thimphu I grimaced as I inspected the damage. They looked like the armpits of a rotting corpse. I’m on the mend now. Don’t worry, I’ll keep you all updated on that.

Now that that confession is out of the way I want to say thank you to all of my friends and family who made every moment of my time at home perfect. And I mean that, it could not have been more perfect. I am still reveling in love and memories.